Red Wings and Capitals seek to avoid going down 2-0 in their series today

With a pair of pivotal Game 2 matchups today both the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals are hoping they can avoid going down 2-0 in their respective series. For Detroit going down by two games would be a bit more expected almost given that they’re starting off in San Jose and home teams are supposed to defend home ice. Washington, on the other hand, could be hitting the road down by two games and staring at a dire situation heading to Tampa Bay.

All times are Eastern.

Detroit @ San Jose – 3 p.m. (NBC)San Jose leads series 1-0

While Detroit didn’t play badly in their Game 1 overtime loss, they certainly could’ve used more of an offensive presence and a stingier defense. Making Jimmy Howard save upwards of 40 shots per game is a good way to play with fire against the offensively gifted Sharks. Scary part now for San Jose is that their big guns of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley haven’t gotten things going as yet. With Ryane Clowe and Joe Pavelski doing their part to score big goals in the playoffs, they haven’t truly been missed. Detroit will look to get Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg free to stir up their own attack and hope that Johan Franzen can start snapping pucks by Antti Niemi.

Tampa Bay @ Washington – 7 p.m. (Versus)Tampa Bay leads series 1-0

Times will be a bit tougher tonight for Tampa Bay as they’ll be without Pavel Kubina and Simon Gagne for tonight’s game. In their place the Lightning are calling on the Jones boys. Randy Jones and Blair Jones (not related) will draw into the lineup. Expect Tampa Bay to be extra vigilant in trying to make up for their absence as they’ll look to get out ahead early and get Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis into action. Washington, meanwhile, looks like they’ll have John Carlson ready to go after an injury worry in Game 1. Caps are hoping they can get the same kind of offensive jump they had in Game 1 but to sustain that pressure throughout the game. They’ll need Alex Ovechkin to step up bigger and for Michal Neuvirth to rebound stronger in goal.

Rangers make changes after loss in Anaheim

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The scuffling New York Rangers — coming off a 6-3 loss Sunday in Anaheim, and with just two wins in their last seven — are expected to have a slightly different lineup tonight in San Jose.

Up front, winger Matt Puempel is likely to replace rookie Pavel Buchnevich. And on the back end, Dan Girardi will come in for Kevin Klein.

The Girardi-for-Klein switch is no huge surprise. Both d-men have been battling injuries, with Klein only returning Sunday after an extended absence due to back spasms. Head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that he “didn’t want to put two injured defensemen in at the same time,” so Klein gets the night off tonight.

As for the potential scratching of Buchnevich, that decision would be slightly more controversial. The 21-year-old has two goals and three assists in his last 11 games, but clearly has not gained the full trust of his coach.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal after a tough return to the net against the Ducks.

Canucks hint at shutting down injured Markstrom

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It doesn’t sound like Jacob Markstrom will play any more games for the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 27-year-old goalie has been trying to recover from a knee injury suffered in the Canucks’ skills competition on Feb. 26.

“I don’t think things are great,” head coach Willie Desjardins said today. “We’ve got to make a medical decision on him.”

It has to be frustrating for Markstrom, who was hoping to challenge Ryan Miller for the starting job this year. The tall Swede played well at times, going 10-11-3 with a .910 save percentage — but in the end, he only made 23 starts.

“He’s a good goalie,” Desjardins said of Markstrom. “He can challenge for the number-one spot. Every time he goes in net, I’ve got lots of confidence in him. He’s left his mark this year.”

Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, while Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent.

It’s possible that the Canucks will re-sign Miller and come back with the same netminding tandem next season.

Oilers sign Walter Brown Award winner Gambardella

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Joe Gambardella, the UMass-Lowell senior that scored 52 points in 41 games this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with Edmonton, the club announced on Monday.

Gambardella, 23, captured this year’s Walter Brown award as the top American-born collegiate player in New England. He beat out the likes of Clayton Keller, Colin White, Charlie McAvoy and Tage Thompson for the honor, and joined a distinguished list of past winners.

Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey won the Walter Brown in ’16 and ’15, while Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau won it in ’14.

Gambardella is the first UMass-Lowell player to ever win the award, which has been given out annually since 1953. It capped off a nice year in which he also paced the River Hawks to the NCAA tournament.

An undrafted free agent, Gambarella’s ELC will kick in next season. It’s also worth noting that one of his UMass-Lowell teammates, defenseman Michael Kapla, signed with the Devils earlier today.

 

 

Coyotes to honor Cunningham for his ‘tremendous courage’

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The Arizona Coyotes will honor Craig Cunningham with a ceremonial puck drop on April 8 before their final home game of the season against the Minnesota Wild.

From the team press release:

Cunningham, who survived a medical emergency prior to the Tucson Roadrunners game on November 19, has made a remarkable recovery. Fans will have an opportunity to congratulate him on the tremendous courage, willpower and perseverance he’s demonstrated throughout his rehabilitation.

Cunningham was recently honored by the Roadrunners.

The 26-year-old’s hockey career is unfortunately over after doctors were forced to amputate part of his left leg due to concerns over infection.

True to form, though, he’s maintained a positive attitude.

“Obviously I miss playing every single day, and I miss the atmosphere around the locker room,” Cunningham said, per the Arizona Daily Star. “The guys have been great. From Day 1, they’ve been to see me every day. It’s been pretty incredible.”